Your apps may be following your every move

Popular apps like The Weather Channel and GasBuddy may be tracking their users’ every move, according to a report published Monday. A New York Times investigation found that at least 75 companies get “anonymous” but super-precise app location data from about 200 million smartphones across the US. Some of the apps gather this data, including specific street … Continue reading “Your apps may be following your every move”

Popular apps like The Weather Channel and GasBuddy may be tracking their users’ every move, according to a report published Monday.

A New York Times investigation found that at least 75 companies get “anonymous” but super-precise app location data from about 200 million smartphones across the US.

Some of the apps gather this data, including specific street addresses, as many as 14,000 times a day.

The information is often sold to advertisers, retailers or even hedge funds. In one sickening instance, people who went to the emergency room were shown ads for personal injury lawyers.

Even though the data sold is anonymous, and not tied to a phone number, The Times was able to figure out who the users were easily through their daily routines, and where they live, work or what businesses they frequent.

Many companies said the data is fair game — since users enabled location services — but explanations given to people when prompted to give permission was often incomplete or misleading, the investigation found.

For instance, an app might tell a user that enabling their location will give them the latest weather or traffic updates, but not mention that the data will be shared and sold.

That detail is buried in the privacy policy.

The data is hot commodity with sales of location-targeted advertising reaching an estimated $21 billion this year.

This story originally appeared in the New York Post. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies before House committee — live blog

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday amid allegations of anti-conservative bias and privacy violations on the platform.

In his prepared remarks, released Monday, Pichai said the tech giant is not a haven for political bias.

"I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way," Pichai said in his opening remarks. "To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests. We are a company that provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions—and we have no shortage of them among our own employees."

Follow Fox News' live blog below. Mobile users click here.

Fox News’ Matt Richardson, Christopher Carbone and Fox Business’ Henry Fernandez contributed to this report.

Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her at @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter.

Google+ shutting down earlier than planned amidst another data leak

Google is speeding up its plans to shut down the consumer version of Google+ following the discovery of a second user data leak.

On Monday, the Web giant revealed it recently discovered a new bug, which may have exposed the personal information of 52.5 million Google+ users. Affecting a Google+ API, that flaw was introduced as part of a November software update. It may have allowed app developers to access certain "not-public" information on users' profiles—including names, email addresses, occupations, ages, and more—over a six-day period, G Suite VP of Product Management David Thacker wrote in a blog post.

In addition, "apps with access to a user's Google+ profile data also had access to the profile data that had been shared with the consenting user by another Google+ user but that was not shared publicly," Thacker wrote.

In light of this second epic fail, Google is now scrambling to sunset the unpopular social network and all Google+ APIs. The company now says it will shut down the consumer version of Google+ in April 2019, four months earlier than originally planned, and get rid of all Google+ APIs within the next 90 days.

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  • Google discovered this new bug during regular testing and fixed it within a week of its introduction.

    "No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way," Thacker wrote. "The bug did not give developers access to information such as financial data, national identification numbers, passwords, or similar data typically used for fraud or identity theft."

    Google is now working to notify consumer and enterprise users impacted by the flaw. The company also promised to share more information with developers "in the coming days." Google is also currently investigating whether this problem impacts any other Google+ APIs.

    This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai hits back at allegations of anti-conservative bias

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai disputed the notion that his company is biased against conservatives as he faced lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

    The tech giant's chief executive, who led Google's product side, was questioned about allegations of bias in its ubiquitous search engine by House Judiciary Committee members as the hearing got underway on Tuesday morning.

    Although Google has taken heat from prominent Republicans over accusations anti-conservative bias, in remarks released before his appearance, Pichai said that political bias does not factor into the company's work — including in its search product.

    "It's not possible for individual employees to manipulate our search results," Pichai said in response to questions from lawmakers, noting that Google publishes rater guidelines that are used to constantly improve its search engine. "We don't manually intervene on any particular search."

    "Providing users with access to high-quality information is sacrosanct," Pichai explained.

    The tech executive was also questioned about leaked emails from a Google employee about efforts to increase voter turnout ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and allegations that the emails showed political bias in favor of Democrats.

    Under repeated questioning from Republican lawmakers, Pichai said that he was aware of the emails, sent by a former multicultural marketing executive, but that they did not represent any partisan effort by Google as a company.

    "The email itself explicitly notes that she is speaking personally and that Google’s efforts were non-partisan," a Google spokesperson told Fox News previously.

    The tech behemoth, which answered three trillion search queries last year, is the latest Silicon Valley firm to face lawmakers' scrutiny.

    In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress about privacy, accusations of political bias, election integrity and the spread of hate speech. Zuckerberg — sometimes called robotic or emotionless in his public demeanor by critics — said he was sorry for not doing enough to prevent Facebook from being used to undermine democracy, but he also gave "I don't know" replies dozens of times during his testimony.

    GOOGLE'S DRAGONFLY PROJECT SPARKS EMPLOYEE BACKLASH

    Pichai, who has been mending fences with legislators in recent months, has been described as "thoughtful," "even-keeled" and even "boring"— qualities that seemed to serve him well in the Rayburn House Office Building, where lawmakers peppered him with aggressive questions and tried to score points for the television cameras.

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai appears before the House Judiciary Committee to be questioned about the internet giant’s privacy security and data collection, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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    In his prepared remarks, Pichai said that political bias would go against the company's core principles and business interests.

    "To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests. We are a company that provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions—and we have no shortage of them among our own employees."

    Throughout the hearing, Democratic lawmakers pushed back against any notion of political bias at Google.

    Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee's top Democrat, called the notion of bias a "delusion" and a "right-wing conspiracy theory."

    Christopher Carbone covers technology and science for Fox News Digital. Tips or story leads: christopher.carbone@foxnews.com. Follow @christocarbone.

    Geminid meteor shower peaks this week: What to know about the ‘strongest meteor shower of the year’

    Stargazers, get ready to bundle up as you catch one of the best meteor shows of the year — the Geminid meteor shower.

    A sprinkle of stars will be visible in the night's sky this week as the winter meteor shower makes its annual appearance. The meteor shower, which contains debris from 3200 Phaethon, is expected to peak Thursday night into Friday morning, shooting anywhere between 60 to 120 meteors per hour. The space rocks will zoom by, hitting Earth at around 22 miles per second, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS).

    "The Geminids are often bright and intensely colored," the AMS states on its website. "Due to their medium-slow velocity, persistent trains are not usually seen."

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    Here's everything you need to know about the starry spectacle.

    How are meteors formed?

    A meteor forms when a meteoroid, a type of space rock that breaks off from an asteroid — a rocky body orbiting the sun — enters Earth's atmosphere. As soon as the space debris crosses over, it breaks down into what scientists call a "meteor," which then vaporizes and — as a result of friction — appears as a bright streak of light in the sky.

    "Because of their appearance, these streaks of light some people call meteors 'shooting stars,'" NASA explains in a blog post. "But scientists know that meteors are not stars at all — they are just bits of rock!"

    What is a Geminid meteor, specifically?

    Geminid meteors are small chunks of rock that break off the famous 3200 Phaethon. These particular meteors are named after their point of origin — the constellation Gemini.

    “The meteor shower is triggered by an interesting object. 3200 Phaethon is a comet/asteroid hybrid. It orbits the sun every 550+ days. This object puts out a fresh batch of debris every other year. This makes the Geminid meteor shower very consistent. Some argue it is actually increasing in intensity,” Accuweather astronomy expert Dave Samuhel explains.

    When can I see the Geminid meteor shower?

    A Geminid meteor streaks across the sky. (Jimmy Westlake/NASA)

    Technically, meteors will be flying across all week. But your best bet at witnessing a fireball in action will be overnight on Dec. 13 and Dec. 14  — when the shower reaches its peak. You’ll be able to catch the most meteors around 2 a.m. on that night.

    The shower will be visible in both the Northern and Southern atmospheres after midnight, though pollution, weather and the Moon could cloud the sky and prevent you from catching the show.

    HOW SPACE CAN CHANGE THE HUMAN BODY

    “From the Southern Hemisphere, observers should see fewer, but still plenty, of medium speed meteors once Gemini rises above the horizon after midnight local time,” NASA told Accuweather.

    How can I watch it?

    Unlike solar eclipses, which requires special equipment to view the astrological event, you don't need anything to spot this celestial event.

    "Get to a dark spot, get comfortable, bring extra blankets to stay warm, and let your eyes adjust to the dark sky," NASA suggests. "A cozy lounge chair makes for a great seat, as does simply lying on your back on a blanket, eyes scanning the whole sky."

    It takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, so you should head outside about an hour before the meteors are expected to shoot across the sky.

    “The meteors will appear in all parts of the sky,” Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd previously explained to EarthSky. “It’s even possible to have your back to the constellation Gemini and see a Geminid meteor fly by. However, if you trace the path of a Geminid meteor backwards, it appears to originate from within the constellation Gemini.”

    Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.

    How rising temperatures suffocated 96 percent of sea life in Earth’s biggest extinction

    The end of the Permian period, around 252 million years ago, was a dire time for life on Earth.

    Scientists believe a series of violent volcanic eruptions occurred in what is today Siberia, pumping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, which warmed the planet.

    Then came the "Great Dying." About 96 percent of creatures in the ocean and 70 percent of terrestrial species living on the supercontinent Pangaea went extinct in a matter of several thousand years (not a very long time in geological terms). The so-called Permian-Triassic mass extinction event was the worst in Earth's history. The planet lost a huge diversity of animals, from sharks and reptiles to ammonites and corals, that are known only by their fossils today. [7 Iconic Animals Humans Are Driving to Extinction]

    Researchers have long sought to understand how this die-off played out. In a study published in the Dec. 7 issue of the journal Science, a group of scientists offered an account for how this mass extinction event killed so many ocean creatures. The study showed how warming waters couldn't hold enough oxygen to support most life.

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  • "This is the first time that we have made a mechanistic prediction about what caused the extinction that can be directly tested with the fossil record, which then allows us to make predictions about the causes of extinction in the future," the first author of the study, Justin Penn, a doctoral student in oceanography at the University of Washington, said in a statement.

    Penn and his colleagues ran a computer simulation of the changing conditions Earth experienced during the transition from the Permian to the Triassic, with ocean surface temperatures in the tropics rising by 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius).

    In the researchers' model, ocean circulation became quite stagnant and about 76 percent of marine oxygen was depleted around the globe. Oxygen loss varied according to geography, generally hitting deeper waters hardest; about 40 percent of seafloor environments totally lacked oxygen after this transition.

    Using data on the oxygen -requirements of 61 modern species, the researchers then ran simulations to see how marine animals would adapt to these harsh new conditions,.

    Investigators found that most species would have had to migrate to new habitats in an attempt to survive. But the creatures didn't have an equal chance at making it. The study showed that species that had been living in oxygen-rich, cold-water environments at high latitudes were especially vulnerable to extinction, a pattern the researchers said is borne out in the fossil record.

    While the Permian-Triassic extinction was driven by a natural catastrophe, the scientists said the study offers a warning about the dangers of human-made greenhouse gas emissions, which are the primary drivers of climate change today.

    "Under a business-as-usual emissions scenarios, by 2100, warming in the upper ocean will have approached 20 percent of warming in the late Permian, and by the year 2300, it will reach between 35 and 50 percent," Penn said. "This study highlights the potential for a mass extinction arising from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic climate change."

    At the rate that Earth is losing species currently, some researchers have argued that the next mass extinction event is already underway.

    Wipe Out: History’s Most Mysterious Extinctions8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the WorldTop 9 Ways the World Could End

    Original article on Live Science.

    Surgeons separate 3-day-old conjoined twins in 5-hour operation

    Surgeons in India posed for a celebratory selfie after successfully separating 3-day-old conjoined twins in a painstaking operation.

    The baby girls – which are yet to be named – had a combined weight of just 7lbs and were joined at the tummy.

    Doctors said the pair's parents were anxious about separating them – but thankfully doctors managed to convince them it was for the best.

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    A five-hour op saw the medics anesthetize them both at the exact same time, before separating their breastbones and livers.

    The surgeons at S S Hospital in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, performed the procedure for free because the parents were not able to pay.

    The girls, pictured before the surgery, were only 3 days old at the time of the operation. (SWNS)

    The medics took a photo with the two babies on the operating table to celebrate the op which was tricky due to their tiny blood supply.

    "It was one of the rarest operations our hospital does," Dr. Vaibhav Pandey, assistant professor of pediatric surgery, said. "I am very happy that both survived in spite of the long operation and the children being weak. It was a challenging task."

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    The operation took place on Dec. 6 and was performed by a team of five surgeons, ten doctors, and 15 nurses.

    They are set to be discharged later this week and will be named in a traditional ritual at home. (SWNS)

    The babies, who were dehydrated before the operation, are due to be discharged from hospital later this week and are doing well, the hospital said.

    They will be named during traditional rituals performed when they get home, it was said.

    Megalodon may have gone extinct for this shocking reason

    The megalodon may have been the largest marine predator to ever live, growing up to 60 feet with teeth nearly the size of a standard sheet of paper. But, even more stunning, a new study suggests it succumbed to one foe that caused it to go extinct — itself.

    New research presented at Monday's annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union suggests that, specifically, the giant shark's body temperature may have been the culprit. This comes as a surprise as modern-day sharks can self-regulate their body heat and adapt to their environments.

    Preliminary tests involving clumped isotope measurements using megalodon teeth and teeth of modern-day sharks suggests that megalodons "maintained a higher body temperature" when compared to great white sharks.

    PREHISTORIC SURVIVOR? HOW WE KNOW 'THE MEG' IS DEAD

    "While still preliminary, these results may provide clues as to what may have led to the demise of O. megalodon during the Pliocene," an abstract of the research reads. "For example, one hypothesis is that O. megalodon consumed large quantities of prey in order to maintain such a high body temperature."

    The abstract continues: "However, cooling of ocean temperatures during the Pliocene would have constrained the species to lower latitudes where ocean temperatures were warmer, whilst its preferred prey (e.g., whales) evolved traits to adapt to cooler temperatures of the higher latitudes. Therefore, large climatic shifts combined with evolutionary limitations may provide the 'smoking gun' for the extinction of the largest shark species to ever roam the planet."

    Scientifically known as Otodus megalodon, the largest megalodon tooth ever found was slightly more than 7 inches in length.

    Speaking with LiveScience, researcher Michael Griffiths, one of the authors of the paper, said that megalodons may have had body temperatures as high as 95 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. By comparison, ancestors of modern-day mako and great white sharks had temperatures ranging from 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

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    In addition to reaching up to 60 feet, megalodons are thought to have weighed approximately 120,000 pounds or 60 tons. The species is commonly thought to have gone extinct 2.6 million years ago.

    The researchers acknowledged that there "is little agreement as to the primary cause for O. megalodon’s disappearance," but added that either the lack of food or the "environmental change influenced its extinction."

    Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

    Boy, 6, diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria after positive strep test

    A 6-year-old boy in Mississippi is fighting for his life after a flesh-eating bacteria infection sneakily spread through his legs for days. Chance Wade, whose mom is urging other parents to “never take anything lightly,” had tested positive for strep three days after he started complaining about leg pain, WJTV.com reported.

    “He was complaining about his leg, we took him to the doctor he tested positive for strep throat but he was still limping,” Melissa Evans, the boy’s mother, told the news outlet.

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    By the time he was diagnosed, doctors at Blair E Batson Children’s had discovered that the infection spread through both of his legs.

    The boy has already been through three surgeries to stop the infection from spreading further. (Courtesy Melissa Dianne Evans)

    Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly throughout the body and can lead to death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Timely diagnosis, rapid antibiotic treatment and prompt surgery are vital in stopping the infection from spreading. According to the CDC, group A Streptococcus is a common cause of necrotizing fasciitis.

    Evans said she isn’t sure how her son contracted the infection, but that he’s already been through three surgeries to prevent it from spreading further since the end of November.

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    “It can come from many things, just a small cut, an open wound just a scratch… With all this weather changing, and sick babies, and everything going around, just never take anything lightly,” she told WJTV. “Just continue to pray for me and my baby he’s still fighting and it’s going to be alright.”

    She told WJTV that she hopes she can bring her son home in time for Christmas, and has started a GoFundMe page to help cover his medical expenses.

    Remains of US Revolutionary War frigate discovered off UK coast

    The remains of the famous Revolutionary War frigate USS Bonhomme Richard have been discovered off the coast of the U.K., more than 200 years after it sank following a naval battle.

    The BBC reports that the famous warship, which was commanded by John Paul Jones, was discovered by search experts Merlin Burrows. Pieces of the ship were found off the coastal town of Filey in Yorkshire.

    Originally a merchant vessel named Duc de Duras, the ship was built in France and donated to the American cause by King Louis XVI in 1779. Renamed Bonhomme Richard to honor both countries (American Ambassador to France Benjamin Franklin was the author of “Poor Richard’s Almanac”), the ship was commanded by John Paul Jones, who is regarded as the father of the U.S. Navy.

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    Bonhomme Richard famously defeated British frigate HMS Serapis in the Battle of Flamborough Head off the U.K. coast on Sept. 23, 1779. “Victorious, John Paul Jones commandeered Serapis and sailed her to Holland for repairs,” explains the U.S. Navy, on its website. “This epic battle was the American Navy's first-ever defeat of an English ship in English waters!” it adds.

    Illustration of the battle between USS Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis, from "Memoirs de Paul Jones." (Library of Congress)

    The clash is also immortalized in a famous quote from Jones. During the closing stages of the battle, Bonhomme Richard’s mast was hit above the top-sail, sending a large section of the mast and the ship’s Colors crashing to the deck near Jones’s feet. “Serapis called out, ‘Have you struck your Colors?’ Resoundingly, John Paul Jones exclaimed, ‘Struck Sir? I have not yet begun to fight!’," according to U.S. Navy. “With newfound will, his crew delivered decisive blows from all sides and aloft. Jones' sent 40 Marines and Sailors into the rigging with grenades and muskets.”

    Despite defeating HMS Serapis, Bonhomme Richard suffered extensive damage during the battle and sank on Sept. 24, 1779.

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    The location of the wreck has long been a mystery, with the Yorkshire Post reporting that the site was thought to be six miles out to sea. However, the newly-found remains are said to be visible from nearby cliffs and “walkable from the beach.”

    A depiction of the battle between USS Bonhomme Richard and the British frigate HMS Serapis. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    The discovery has caused excitement on social media.

    “FINALLY! Bravo! Been a long time coming!” tweeted maritime historian and author William H. White.

    “Found!” tweeted Bill Koller.

    Revolutionary War shipwrecks continue to be a source of fascination for historians. Earlier this year, for example, a Nor’easter uncovered the remains of a Revolutionary War-era ship on a beach in Maine.

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    In 2015, a Revolutionary War-era ship was unearthed at a construction site in Alexandria, Virginia.

    John Paul Jones, hero in the American Revolutionary War, (c1930s). Jones (1747-1792) was the first well-known naval hero in the American Revolutionary War, and founded the US Navy. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

    A 22-gun British warship that sank during the American Revolution regarded as one of the "Holy Grail" shipwrecks in the Great Lakes was discovered at the bottom of Lake Ontario in 2008.

    Fox News’ Katherine Lam and the Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers